Lynn Trapano is a member of the five-strong VisitBrighton Convention Bureau team, working to promote the city as a meetings and conference destination.
We get a range of enquires each day, anything from PAs looking to book out one of the smaller boutique hotels for a residential teambuilding event to one of the main political parties looking for a multi-year deal for its annual conferences.
The main focus of my work is managing conference enquiries but I also organise fam trips, assist with trade shows and look after our Ambassador Programme. With so many creative and digital companies based in the city, plus academics and medical professionals, there is a wealth of expertise to tap into and there’s no better endorsement than a personal recommendation.
We recently won the bid to host the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing, with Dr Saeid Sanei from the University of Surrey as the key local ambassador involved in championing Brighton. It’s the first time the organisation has held its event in England and will bring over 2,500 delegates to the city in May 2019.
After dropping my daughter off at nursery at 8.30am I take the bus into work and am at my desk by 9am. Brighton and Hove is a compact city so it doesn’t take long to get from one end to the other, wherever you’re travelling in from. The local council has invested heavily in improving road infrastructure with an emphasis on making it safer and easier to travel by bus or bike so the city has some impressive eco credentials.
My first appointment this morning was with the Business School at the University of Brighton. We’ve worked with the School for a number of years and ambassadors from there have been instrumental in bringing conferences to the city.
We’ve been selected as the next destination to host the annual Great Ambassador Networking Group (GANG) meeting which takes place in March 2015. Convention bureaus and universities with Ambassador Programmes will come together to discuss best practice. It’s a great opportunity to showcase what Brighton has to offer.
I’m in the middle of putting together a proposal for a company looking to host a conference as part of the city’s Digital Festival. There are a number of venues that are a good fit so it’s a case of pulling in the best rates and getting a strong proposal back to the client as quickly as possible. I’ve lived and worked in Brighton for 14 years now so having experience of the city is invaluable in communicating what’s on offer, not just in terms of getting from A to B but the range of restaurants, festivals and entertainment that contribute to the overall vibrancy of the place.
Readers of Condé Nast Traveller magazine recently voted Brighton and Hove the best UK city for restaurants and bars, ahead of London, so this particular accolade will be a great one to pull out for future bids.
I’m currently making arrangements for a client who is coming down in a couple of weeks for a site inspection. She wants to see venue options for the main conference, as well as the social events. I particularly enjoy this part of my job as you get to meet a client face-to-face, and although you know what they want on paper, when they’re there in the flesh, you can gauge exactly what they’re thinking and build up a proper rapport with them; that’s when a personal touch can really be a deal clincher.
Brighton is a friendly place and having good relationships with the venues means we can work collaboratively and efficiently for the good of the city. We have regular sales managers meetings where we share news and raise any upcoming issues that may impact on business – festivals and events, new openings and launches; even keeping abreast of road works and building projects is important.
VisitBrighton has had a bumper year so far, securing nine substantial conferences worth £20m in economic benefit since April and we have a total of 31 City conferences confirmed for 2014/15.
There’s definitely an air of positivity in Brighton, whether that’s because people fall in love with the place and have often come here to follow their dreams or maybe there’s something in the water. For me, though, I like the buzz of converting enquiries into business and with an office two minutes’ walk from the sea that equates to lunch on the beach – any sunny day of the week.
This was first published in the October issue of CN. Any comments? Email Zoe Vernor